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What I indirectly was trying to show is that a lot of traits that are desirable or undesirable can simply be the result of how an agency specs their buses, and, even indeed how they purchase their bus

My job RideKC got their first electric bus a couple of weeks ago. Still not in service yet. 

Care to explain a bit more? I'm all for people having their own opinions, but, just simply saying that something sucks doesn't cut it. You say the suspension sucks. Why? How does it compare to other b

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There's a news story in the San Jose Mercury newspaper about Gillig moving their business and manufacturing operations from Hayward to Livermore, Ca. because of expansion needs...it was mentioned in the article they had to turn down orders because of limited capacity.

Nice find! Here is a link: http://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_27469347/major-american-transit-bus-manufacturer-leaving-hayward-livermore

Excerpt: A major Bay Area-based transit bus maker is leaving Hayward, its home for almost 80 years, to take up residence in a massive manufacturing plant and corporate headquarters in Livermore.

Gillig, a 125-year-old, family-owned company and the nation's second largest builder of transit buses, will relocate to a half-million square-foot manufacturing and office facility on a 38-acre site at the new Oaks Business Park near the Livermore Municipal Airport.

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I wonder if this new larger plant will lead to the development of an articulated bus model?

I think there would have to be a big demand for them to engineer an articulated model, like there was for CNG to be added to their product line. I am not saying the demand is or isn't there though, I don't know. But when this new plant is built, this will definitely help with keeping customers with larger orders, as well as possibly gaining new contracts with agencies that may require larger orders. The article basically points out that Gillig had outgrown their current facility, which is understandable with the way business has been in recent years.

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I think there would have to be a big demand for them to engineer an articulated model, like there was for CNG to be added to their product line. I am not saying the demand is or isn't there though, I don't know. But when this new plant is built, this will definitely help with keeping customers with larger orders, as well as possibly gaining new contracts with agencies that may require larger orders. The article basically points out that Gillig had outgrown their current facility, which is understandable with the way business has been in recent years.

Well, Gillig does have two large orders from Valley Metro and Sacramento Regional Transit District. Perhaps these orders could be part of the reason why Gillig wants a larger facility.

As for artics, although some larger agencies have ordered from them in recent years, Gillig's main target customers are smaller agencies. Most smaller agencies have no need for artics.

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As for artics, although some larger agencies have ordered from them in recent years, Gillig's main target customers are smaller agencies. Most smaller agencies have no need for artics.

You never know though, some smaller agencies like SamTrans (which its headquarters are literally right next to Gillig Corp.) will be in need for replacement artics in a couple years. I am sure they will consider Gillig as the number 1 option for new artics, since they have been ordering Gilligs since 1983. In fact, the 2002 NABI 436.10 artics are the only non-Gillig buses that SamTrans currently has.

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Artic model? Time will tell. More likely IMHO will be a redesigned or possibly new 30'/35'/40' low floor transit model. I'm not saying this will happen immediately, but I suspect part of the plan is to eventually introduce a new or updated model and build both the new type and the existing LF/BRT model simultaneously for a while. Thus, another reason for increased manufacturing space. After all, I'm sure Gillig is not observing the improvements NFI, Nova, and Eldorado have made to their models/lineup and is simply kicking back and saying 'Meh, hopefully our product will still be selling like hotcakes in a decade. We'll just stick with what we got.'

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Artic model? Time will tell. More likely IMHO will be a redesigned or possibly new 30'/35'/40' low floor transit model. I'm not saying this will happen immediately, but I suspect part of the plan is to eventually introduce a new or updated model and build both the new type and the existing LF/BRT model simultaneously for a while. Thus, another reason for increased manufacturing space. After all, I'm sure Gillig is not observing the improvements NFI, Nova, and Eldorado have made to their models/lineup and is simply kicking back and saying 'Meh, hopefully our product will still be selling like hotcakes in a decade. We'll just stick with what we got.'

I thought about that too. Perhaps a new model might have taller (lower bottom) windows in the low floor section, a rooftop HVAC unit (except on CNG models), and weight reduction.

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I thought about that too. Perhaps a new model might have taller (lower bottom) windows in the low floor section, a rooftop HVAC unit (except on CNG models), and weight reduction.

I wonder is a new model might kind of throw off long time customers, as far as major parts go and body stuff. However that may not be all that true with quite a few agencies going with BRT face just for an updated look, and not using it for BRT. So maybe some places are looking for an updated look. But quite a few are good with the current look too. San Diego MTS comes to mind.

As far as the lower windows in the low floor section, I think that would be great. But they would have to engineer a new frame, as the current one does not support lower windows.

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Gillig has been doing really well, but I agree they need to be working hard to keep their product(s) current. They've added CNG which was awesome and they need to keep responding to market demands like that.

Electric buses are coming and they are not even in that game.

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Gillig has been doing really well, but I agree they need to be working hard to keep their product(s) current. They've added CNG which was awesome and they need to keep responding to market demands like that.

Electric buses are coming and they are not even in that game.

They are in the electric trolley bus game.

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Gillig has a full order pipeline right now. I'm not saying that they should sit back and never improve their product, but they are doing quite well right now.

The risk for Gillig is, if they improve their product but increase the cost (and thus the purchase price), they might price themselves out of the reach of many of their small transit agencies and shuttle operators who have kept their business going all these years.

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They are in the electric trolley bus game.

Not exactly. Gillig is in the game of delivering buses without a drivetrain.

Dayton actually signed the contract with Vossloh Kiepe (who builds electric drive systems) and Vossloh Kiepe turned around and signed deals with Gillig to provide unpowered BRTPlus coaches and Complete Coach Works to assemble it all together.

That's opposed to New Flyer who gets electric drive systems from Vossloh Kiepe and assembles it all together before delivery.

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Gillig has a full order pipeline right now. I'm not saying that they should sit back and never improve their product, but they are doing quite well right now.

The risk for Gillig is, if they improve their product but increase the cost (and thus the purchase price), they might price themselves out of the reach of many of their small transit agencies and shuttle operators who have kept their business going all these years.

Well, New Flyer was able to offer the Xcelsior for the same or lower cost than the LF or LFR series. In fact prior to the LFR's discontinuation the list price for an Xcelsior was lower than that of an LF or LFR. I don't see why it would be impossible for Gillig to introduce a new model for the same or lower cost than the Low Floor.

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Most of the North American transit bus manufactures use Cummins motors for diesel and CNG. Nobody worries about Gillig falling behind with diesel technology because they don't make their own diesel motors.

Gillig has had to engineer their product for the four Dayton trolleys, and being involved with the project they gained engineering knowledge. What they learned about battery storage and roof reinforcement can now be passed on to the next project, such as battery electric. All the fast charge, battery electric systems use proprietary technology for the charging system. Once a municipality buys a charging system, they won't be too thrilled if it obligates them to buy one brand of bus. A successful battery electric designer will allow small players like Gillig to use their technology, because municipal customers tend to avoid exclusive technology.

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Most of the North American transit bus manufactures use Cummins motors for diesel and CNG. Nobody worries about Gillig falling behind with diesel technology because they don't make their own diesel motors.

Gillig has had to engineer their product for the four Dayton trolleys, and being involved with the project they gained engineering knowledge. What they learned about battery storage and roof reinforcement can now be passed on to the next project, such as battery electric. All the fast charge, battery electric systems use proprietary technology for the charging system. Once a municipality buys a charging system, they won't be too thrilled if it obligates them to buy one brand of bus. A successful battery electric designer will allow small players like Gillig to use their technology, because municipal customers tend to avoid exclusive technology.

Its a good point. Eaton is making fast-chargers for rooftop connection charging (so far for Proterra and NFI) and certainly would love to sell to Gillig. But Gillig will have to engineer a drivetrain or partner up with an electric drivetrain company. They already work with BAE hybrid powertrains and those are only a small step away from being fully electric--so thats one possibility.

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Maybe the larger facility is for building glider kits as well as completed units. Electric drivetrains are a buyers' market at the current time. Electric drivetrain companies want to get their hardware on the street for bragging rights. Some of the zero-emissions, compliance cars for California use drivetrains that are simply vendor kits installed in gliders.

Smaller community or college fleets might want just a few electric coaches. If Gillig partners with the right vendors who do much of the engineering, and have drivetrains ready to install in gliders, then Gillig can offer the quick turnaround they usually pull off. The US Dept. of Energy has been pretty generous with clean energy money and I can see smaller fleets and universities getting funding for EV busses.

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Its an interesting point about Gillig and their experience building gliders. I have to agree, that can serve them well. Maybe they are already building partnerships and plans for electric bus RFPs.

They will have to fight for even small orders though, and BYD and Proterra are likely to be tough to beat, to say nothing of NFI.

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Gillig has a full order pipeline right now. I'm not saying that they should sit back and never improve their product, but they are doing quite well right now.

The risk for Gillig is, if they improve their product but increase the cost (and thus the purchase price), they might price themselves out of the reach of many of their small transit agencies and shuttle operators who have kept their business going all these years.

That is true Gillig has a 18 month backlog right now

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi! Just like to discuss the recent state of business at Gillig. Amid remarkable triumphs like capturing contracts at moderately large agencies like AC Transit, Greater Cleveland RTA, Long Beach Transit, Sacramento RT, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, TriMet (Portland metro, Oregon) and Valley Metro (City of Phoenix portion) and flipping back SORTA (Cincinnati) after a brief flirtation with New Flyer, it also experienced quite a few remarkable setbacks:

a) The Gillig LF fleet is now extinct at Foothill Transit, and highly threatened in Broward County Transit, Montebello Bus Lines, St. Cloud (Minnesota) and Torrance Transit.

B) New Flyer managed to flip erstwhile Gillig customers like Muncie MITS, Omaha Metro, Transpo (South Bend, IN) and Star Tran (Lincoln, NE) and regained recent Gillig convert of Detroit DOT.

c) Gillig also loses out in potentially winnable orders for CNG buses at NFTA (Buffalo), OCTA (Orange County, CA), and NICE (Nassau County, NY)

Here's my take on its plights with the agencies above:

1. With Broward County Transit and Detroit DOT, unsatisfactory batch(es) of buses may have played a big role.

2. In NICE's case, metropolitan NYC's stereotype/bias against Gillig is hurting it big time. (The only Gillig LF's there are with City of Long Beach Transit, Huntington HART and Suffolk Transit -all in Long Island, Add Transport of Rockland, Transit Orange and City of Poughkeepsie Transit System for those in NYC's outskirts)

3. For the CNG bus orders, either the unavailability of CNG Gillig LF's in Foot hill Transit's case) or subconscious bias in favor of New Flyers (perceived to have more mature CNG technology, in the cases of Lincoln, Montebello, OCTA, South Bend St. Cloud and Torrance) are major factors.

4. With the small-to-medium agencies (Detroit DOT, Montebello, Muncie, Lincoln, Omaha, South Bend and Torrance), the Gillig LF may also be considered insufficiently innovative compared to the NFI Xcelsior.

5. The erstwhile relationship between NFI and OCTA is also a key to XN40's winning the bid at OCTA.

6. Geographical proximity/political interference may take a part in the choices of the Nebraska agencies (relative close to Minnesota) and a blatant role in St. Cloud (NFI's built right at its backyards). Similarly, the "Buy New York" sentiment may have caused the surprise win by Novabus at NFTA.

7. And finally, the long order backlog at Gillig may also force some of its erstwhile customers t think elsewhere,

Sorry for the length of this thread, but I'm trying to give sheer guesses in the mentality behind the transit agencies' choices of a bus manuacturer. As always, discussion is always welcome!

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Many agencies will switch back and forth, depending on pricing and terms. If Gillig has a large backlog, and you want new buses quickly, then you'll end up with another builder.

Similarly, if a manufacturer believes that you have already made your choice, you may end up paying more. Maybe Detroit, for example, just wanted to buy the low bidder in order to save money.

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